Abraham Lincoln on Gettysburg

One hundred and forty five years ago today, one of the most hated presidents in the history of these United States gave a brief speech at a cemetery in Pennsylvania. His two minutes in front of an estimated crowd of 15,000 paled in comparison to the lengthy two hour oration given by the speaker that preceded him.

From all accounts the crowd that day was un-moved by the presidents words that we have come to know as the Gettysburg Address:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. ” – Abraham Lincoln

Barack Obama on healing the nation

As a very bitter and divisive 2008 Presidential Election came to a close last night, after a record setting voter turnout, I was moved by the acceptance speech of our new President Elect. In particular the words below that speak of healing and the invocation of the memory of a time more troubled and an even greater division that was mode whole:

“Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends … though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn — I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president too.” – Barack Obama

Click here for the entire transcript of the Barack Obama Election Night Acceptance Speech – November 4, 2008